BMI May Underestimate Metabolic Abnormality Risk Assessment in Minorities

HealthDay News — Racial/ethnic minority groups have a significantly higher prevalence of metabolic abnormality but normal weight (MAN) than whites, according to a study published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Unjali P. Gujral, PhD, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis involving participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America study. They estimated the prevalence of 2 or more cardiometabolic abnormalities among normal-weight participants.

The researchers found that the prevalence of MAN was 21% in 846 whites, 32.2% in 323 Chinese-Americans, 31.1% in 334 African-Americans, 38.5% in 252 Hispanics, and 43.6% in 195 South Asians. The racial/ethnic differences were not explained by adjustment for demographic, behavioral, and ectopic body fat measures. For the equivalent MAN prevalence at a body mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m² in whites, the corresponding BMI values were 22.9, 21.5, 20.9, and 19.6 kg/m² in African-Americans, Hispanics, Chinese-Americans, and South Asians, respectively, after adjustment for age, sex, and race/ethnicity-BMI interaction.

“Using a BMI criterion for overweight to screen for cardiometabolic risk may result in a large proportion of racial/ethnic minority groups being overlooked,” the authors write.

Related Articles


Gujral UP, Vittinghoff E, Mongraw-Chaffin M, et al. Cardiometabolic abnormalities among normal-weight persons from five racial/ethnic groups in the United States: a cross-sectional analysis of two cohort studies [published online April 4, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M16-1895